It doesn't matter how fast you make your Corvette; if you can't bring it to a stop, the result is a car that is unbalanced, and likely unsafe. Countless performance cars, Corvettes included, have been wrecked and totaled simply because they're so fast that the driver doesn't leave enough distance for braking, resulting in blunt-force trauma to the car, if not the occupants. This problem is compounded by the addition of a more powerful engine to the car, and since that's just what we plan to do to Project Triple-Ex, we felt the brakes needed some attention earlier in this build, rather than later.
Any time you modify your car's systems, it pays to do a little research prior to purchasing the parts. Since our Stingray was originally equipped with disc brakes on all four corners, our choices were pretty basic. We could upgrade our brakes with new replacement components, resulting in a car with braking performance similar to when it was new, or we could upgrade to better, aftermarket performance parts for decreased braking distances. Since we're not known for leaving any of our cars stock for long, we of course chose the latter.
There are many options when it comes to purchasing aftermarket brakes for a C3 Stingray Corvette, so our first step was to figure out which brake components would be right for our car. While we are building this car for performance, we won't be modifying the body with wild fender flares to accommodate enormous tires, so our tire size will be limited to 255/50-17s out back and 245/45-17s up front. Since brakes that will outperform the tires are considered overkill, adding unnecessary weight to the vehicle, our wheel and tire choice limited our choices to reasonably sized, and more reasonably priced, braking systems.
We had already replaced our factory 15-inch Rally wheels and non-performance tires with a set of bolt-on, aluminum, 17-inch, ZR-1-inspired units from SLP, significantly lowering our car's unsprung weight and also offering us a larger diameter platform for better performance tires. Though the SSBC components would fit under our factory 15-inch steel wheels, we felt the look and performance of the SLP wheels more fit the theme of our project car.
To further improve our car's stopping (not to mention handling) performance we chose Nitto's Invo tires for our Stingray, which we've found to be great all-around performance tires. The Nitto Invos grip well, shed water adequately if we drive in the rain, offer reasonable tread-wear life, and ride comfortably and quietly. These tires are also Z-rated for sustained high speeds, in case we get the urge for a top-end blast on the local freeway or racetrack.
So with our tires and wheels picked, we needed brakes that would adequately handle repeatedly stopping our car without fading, but wouldn't be overkill for our limited tire size. Our research led us to SSBC's Big-Bite drilled and slotted rotors, aluminum four-piston calipers, and billet aluminum master cylinder for our Corvette. These components are significantly lighter than the factory brakes, offer better hydraulic proportioning, and will shed heat far more quickly due to the drilled, slotted, and vented rotors and the aluminum construction of the calipers. Included with the SSBC brake kit were metallic race pads-which are a little noisy but worth it in terms of performance-and new steel-braided flexible brake lines for the front and rear.